Falling: Hope for the Backsliding Christian

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Backsliding believer, take heart! Righteousness isn't about perfection. It's about Christ-clothed sinners seeing every fall as an invitation to rise again.

If there’s one thing I want my writing to be, it’s truthful. Sometimes the truth is nice and encouraging and inspirational. But sometimes it’s hard and difficult and messy. I should probably warn you that there might be some truth of the messy variety ahead.

A righteous man falls seven times and rises again.” Proverbs 24:16

This verse just might define my life more than any other.

And I don’t mean the righteous part; I mean the falling down repeatedly part.

The only verse that could possibly be more fitting for me is Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Yes, I’m that messed-up. And being messed-up, I have a tendency to…well, mess up.

I recently lapsed into a period of chronic messing up. It started with distraction, which drifted into misplaced priorities, which soon became apathy and then neglect of my relationship with God, which opened the door for the full resurrection of my flesh.


Yes, I was backsliding. I didn’t mean to. Most things seemed fine on the outside. I was going through the motions, and I had everyone fooled – myself included. But deep inside, in the place no one else can see and the place I wasn’t interested in paying much attention to, I knew the sad truth:

there was distance between me and the One I love most.

And it didn’t take long before I actually started to forget what that love feels like. I traded the delight of intense, soul-wrenching passion toward the Lover of my soul for cheap, plastic imitations because I forgot what a divine encounter feels like.

During one of the most difficult times of my life, rather than basking in the bliss of peaceful communion in the arms of my Father, I chose to self-medicate by escaping into mindless entertainment because I forgot what His divine peace feels like.

Instead of claiming every moment of every day as precious, sacred, and divinely appointed, I wasted hour upon hour in vain pursuits of pleasure because I forgot what a divine calling feels like.

You see, I have a very short memory. I’m not all that different from the complaining Israelites who acted like they had never seen with their own eyes God parting the Red Sea for them. Like them, I’m “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”

It would be easier to excuse if this was the first time that’s ever happened.

But it’s not.

It’s also not the second, third, or fourth time I’ve messed up.

And sometimes, when I’m still in the mess, but I’m finally starting to acknowledge the mess, and I desperately want to get out of the mess, it seems like an impossible task. Like messing up is what characterizes my life. Like my messes define me, and will always chase me down like a rabid dog after its prey.

But then, God whispers this verse to my spirit in such a sweet and precious way…in a way that conveys His boundless mercy and His limitless love:

“Beloved daughter! A righteous woman falls seven times and rises again.”

It blows me away that He tells me this while I’m still in the mess.

What grace! What beautiful, tender grace!

And it’s just what I need. Right smack dab in the middle of a mess, I need to be reminded that righteousness is not about self-striving perfection. It’s about Christ-clothed sinners seeing every fall as a divine invitation to rise again.

Are you in the middle of a mess? I pray this verse encourages your heart like it does mine.

You don’t have to stay in the mess! Even better, God isn’t finished with you. He hasn’t given up on you! 

As long as there is breath, there is hope for renewal and restoration of your relationship with your Savior.

Let the Lover of your soul love you back to Himself.

Take the strong hand He’s extending to you, and rise again!

Backsliding believer, take heart! Righteousness isn't about perfection. It's about Christ-clothed sinners seeing every fall as an invitation to rise again.

More posts about your relationship with God:

Just to Be With Him: Jesus’ First Priority for You

Worth Your Everything

Ultimate Example


Want more encouragement in your Christian walk?

My 30-day devotional, Drawing Near: 30 Days Toward Intimacy With God, is now available on Amazon! Drawing Near 3D cover
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9 Replies to “Falling: Hope for the Backsliding Christian”

  1. Sinka

    God uses your posts to speak to me earnestly. This was a gift to me from our Lord this morning, to remind me of how I have gone backwards in trying to draw closer to Him, but I can try again. Thank you Jennifer for this encouragement, it is timeless. I truly enjoy checking out the links that you provide in current posts to previous posts. The threads help to weave a tapestry of deeper understanding.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Isn’t He wonderful to always let us try again? I marvel at such grace! I’m so glad this post was an encouragement to you. These things aren’t always easy to bring to the light — transparency can be difficult. But it’s through our shared experiences that God can work in the lives of others! Thank you for your transparency, Sinka, in sharing our Lord’s work in your life. And thank you for the feedback about the links in my posts; it’s so helpful to know what my readers find useful!

  2. Sarah

    Thank you for this!!! Stumbled upon you blog and can’t stop reading it! Thank you for this reminder as I’m in the middle of a mess and so so tired of the cycle!

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Rise again, dear one! May He lift you up from the pit and set your feet upon the Solid Rock once more, putting a new song in your mouth (Psalm 40). And may He grant you the grace to not refuse Him. I sincerely thank you for spending some time here, and for taking the time to share with me.

  3. tobi

    jenny,i need to thank you for this and i need to talk with you cause am down now and i want to get up and must get up. if you can send me an email;babatopeajayi2@gmail.com.


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